“Real” Islam and the Secular State

By Mark E. Gammon. In his address to the nation on Wednesday night, President Obama laid out a strategy for dealing with the Islamic State (ISIS, or, alternatively, ISIL) that was predicated on two basic propositions. As many Twitter users put it succinctly: “The Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state.” Both of these assumptions are open to debate, but for those with more than a passing interest in religious ethics, the first deserves special scrutiny. The president of course was echoing … [Read more...]

Narendra Modi and the Dawoodi Bohras: A Relationship of Profound Ambivalence

By Abdeali Ujjainwalla. Former Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s ascendency to Prime Ministership in India has re-ignited the debate among the Dawoodi Bohras who are overwhelmingly Gujarati either as resident in the state, or resident elsewhere but with ancestral roots to the state. While most discussion tend to revolve around the 2002 Gujarat carnage where many Bohras were victims of violence and Modi was accused of abetting the violence, this brief article focuses instead more on the pr … [Read more...]

Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel

By Shalom Goldman, Duke University.A New Yorker cartoon of a few years back shows Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Looking at Moses, one Israelite says to the other, "Well, he's alright, but I wish he were a little more pro-Israel."The leadership of American Jewish community organizations never has to worry about such criticism. For the officials of the self-described “major” American Jewish groups, "strong on Israel" is the first qualification of leadership, and “pro-Isr … [Read more...]

Religion, Revelation, and the Rolling Stones

Rolling Stones

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityWhat do the Rolling Stones have to do with religion? Aside from the usual answer—that they are a religion in their own right for many rock and roll fans—they now find themselves in the midst of another kind of religious controversy. Surprisingly, it is a controversy that places, albeit briefly, Orthodox Jews and advocates for the Palestinian cause on the same side of an argument.The controversy arose when the Rolling Stones announced in March that they wo … [Read more...]

World Vision and the Distant Dream of Christian Unity

jacob 75x75

By Jacob LupferWorld Vision USA, a Christian relief agency that raises and spends $1 billion a year, shocked American Christianity last week by announcing that it would employ Christians in same sex marriages. World Vision’s international umbrella organization has a federated model allowing national affiliates some discretion over personnel policies. In Canada and New Zealand, for instance, World Vision does not discriminate in hiring.Appealing to evangelical (particularly Baptist) distin … [Read more...]

“And a Merry Christmas to You, Mr. Netanyahu!”

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityAmerican Jews have long struggled with the Christmas Season. It may not be our holiday, many Jews have felt, but it is after all a great American holiday. How then are we to relate to it?For more traditional Jews, the national Christmas celebration generates anxiety about their place in the American religious landscape. In the second half of the 20th century, as Jews became more assimilated to American society, that anxiety was reduced in two ways: by … [Read more...]

Religion, State, and Soccer in Israel

Teddy Stadium, Jerusalem

by Shalom Goldman, Duke University Throughout the world sports fans can be roused to emotional extremes of enthusiasm, euphoria, and despair that seem almost religious in nature. The only other public manifestation of emotion that comes close to sports in its intensity is at rock and roll concerts—and these concerts are increasingly held in sports stadiums. Also, more and more American sports greats are willing and eager to speak publicly about their Evangelical Christian commitments. These p … [Read more...]

God Speed: “Race Cars for Peace” in the Holy City

Formula One Scuderia Ferrari team driver Giancarlo Fisichella drives a Ferrari F60 past The Tower of David and the ancient walls of Jerusalem's Old City, during the second day of the Jerusalem Formula Peace Road Show

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityIn the US, spectator sports and religious conviction often go hand in hand. Americans are used to players, and teams, who pray and play, invoking Jesus before, during, and after games. This happens on the basketball court, in baseball stadiums, and on football fields. And it is most notable on stock car racetracks, where prayers, along with game results, are often heard over the public address  systems. The tone and style of this sports religiosity is that of … [Read more...]

Tedx Talk: The Numbers of Religious Freedom

By Brian J. GrimThis TEDx talk* provides an overview of Pew Research findings on the rising tide of restrictions on religion around the world coming from governments as well as groups in society. For more, see the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.The Pew Research study finds approximately three-quarters of the world's population live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion coming either from governments or groups in society.Nearly two- … [Read more...]

Inhofe, with God on His Side, vs. Hagel

By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityAt the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel’s nomination to head the Department of Defense, the former senator from Nebraska has been pilloried by some of his former Republican colleagues, most forcefully by current Nebraska Senator Jim Inhofe. At Thursday’s hearings, Inhofe said that on security issues, “Hagel’s record is deeply troubling and out of the mainstream.”In a Washington Post op-ed piece published a week before the Hagel hearings commenced, In … [Read more...]


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